Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Robert Jackson of the blog Algorithm and Contingency responds to some of my recent posts

Robert Jackson of the blog Algorithm and Contingency responds to some of my recent posts concerning "speculative realism," HERE.  Congratulations to him on the birth of his child, by the way (if I am reading his post correctly).

A few things.  It seems that Robert might be overstating my claims.  I don't presume to be hitting the final nail of "Truth" into the coffin.  And I don't presume any grand "reveal," that once revealed, all "practitioners" (?) should acknowledge some momentous change.  (I am not even sure what that means.)  I'm certainly not "touting" anything either.  And finally, my goal is not to "persuade" anyone (Harman the least of all).  I merely expressed my opinion about a rumor that there has been a change in a spirit of philosophy that has been since co-opted and politicized for the worse.  That opinion and sentiment was echoed in a postscript that I read, and insofar as I am concerned, coming from that source as well as others in that same community, it was the "last word."  As in, there is nothing more to say because for me the postscript said all that could be said about it.  I am not sure if I could be any clearer in that.

I am not alone in my opinion or sentiment as Jackson acknowledges when he mentions others who state that speculative realism was "dead on arrival," that it is the "dead elephant in the room," or that in retrospect we now are performing its "autopsy."  I never questioned the legitimacy of "what could have been" - in fact, at the end of one of my posts I state in agreement with others that that spirit ought to live forever: the spirit of speculative inquiry concerning reality in a manner of open engagement and mutual dialogue, especially as that spirit was found in a burgeoning community of philosophers interested in Continental metaphysics, realism, and materialism organized under the conference title of "Speculative Realism."  That is what is "dead."  Again, I am not sure why that isn't clear or how much clearer I can be.  Hence why I distinguish between an original "spirit" of "speculative realism" (the retrieval of speculative metaphysics in the Continental tradition) and its current manifestation of Speculative ®ealism™.  That was my whole point.

The trademark (Jackson misses that in his citing of me) is meant to indicate that there has been in-group and out-groups established within an online community and that that community, especially in its practice, has had pernicious effects on real people and real careers due to intentional exclusionism.  This is not the productive tension he mentions in his post, at least so far as I can gather.  I am not sure what Robert means by a "legacy" of speculative realism, other than only one philosopher of four claiming that label for himself (and this was mentioned in Brassier's postscript).  There is no "rejected relic of yesteryear."  Afterall, what specifically or who specificially would constitute such a relic?  I do acknowledge that there is such a thing as Speculative ®ealism™ today and that alot of folks are buying what its propagators are selling.  But none of the original conference participants (save one) would self-identify with such a label.  Insofar as I am aware - from my most recent correspondence with him - this is something that Meillassoux will address in the future (hopefully).  I have already read and commented upon Brassier's response to the "label," "movement," "existence," or "brand" question as it is addressed in the postscript.

I do not find my position to be "extreme" or "aggressive."  Again, I re-stated and offered as my opinion what I found in a postscript.  Take it or leave it.  I am not interested for whom "speculative realism" is dead.  Is it dead for me?  Is it dead for you?  Who is it dead for?  Who is it alive for?  I think I stated quite clearly that I have no reason to relish or indulge in such a death - if it wasn't dead already as some claim.  I am not blaring some trumpet with some form of grand news that most don't already know.  I am pointing out signs of the times.

Finally, while I do from time to time enjoy a good bit of snark and myself perpetrate it occasionally, I am especially careful not to direct it to the person or to anyone by name.  Thus I am perplexed by Robert's own "aggressive" reaction to my thought as he posted his responses about me on his Twitter account (links that my "friend" Tom Sparrow has so graciously re-Tweeted, and I've known Tom since we were undergraduates together).  I've made it clear that Jackson has never interacted with me before and does not know me personally, at all.  Yet he felt obligated to launch arrows.  He made presumptions about my claims and in his blog post (to some degree) misinterpreted my claims or at the very least exaggerated them.  Snarking to someone (and further coming borderline to snarking them again on one's blog) in my opinion does warrant one asking themselves why they are doing that to someone they don't even know.  But that aside...

I knew that Robert is an editor along with others of the journal Speculations.  It didn't even occur to me that he would have a vested interest in defending speculative realism's life because so.  However I think he is pointing to a paradox that applies to me, as it does to Wolfendale.  If it is "dead" then why write about it?  This, too, in my posts, I address several times.  So I won't repeat myself here.  Perhaps that is a productive tension.  I am not sure.  Although - I do wonder how Robert's engagements with folks on Twitter, if they are in the same manner of politeness or lack thereof that they were with me, would affect his own professional judgment in his capacity as an editor.  What about in the future after he has a Ph.D.?  In my other posts I address how that plays out elsewhere with other folks (as in the editor of the "Speculative Realism" category of PhilPapers downright refusing to list my peer-reviewed and published journal articles on the subject, thus blackballing me, intentionally - which is just plain sick) and how it contributes to Speculative ®ealism™, not "what was" of that original spirit found in "speculative realism."

This I think Robert has right:
I’d like to suggest that as a movement SR was probably too divergent to continue as a movement. But dead altogether? Not in the slightest, and here’s why. That divergence has slowly emerged as a deep hostility between two very deep and important philosophical-historical positions. This is why the calls to question how one might self-identify oneself as a proponent of SR or not, holds little sway to the notion that SR is dead: largely as I think SR is constitutive of a split so encompassing, and only brought to light because of SR, that no-one can ignore it... 
What I might be saying here then, is that SR wasn’t so much a movement of disparate voices returning to metaphysics, realism and materialism, than the beginning of a renewed split in those domains: Here, one side takes realism/materialism to be reducible to authentic epistemological vehicles of science and mathematics whilst the other side does not: refuting in turn, that the real/material can be known by reason, and that reality is composed of other skeptical-based entities that possess, and are defined by the same limitations.
A renewed split in the domain of realist and materialist metaphysics.  That's it.  That domain - and I would largely repitch that split as consisting of both a Kantian trajectory and a Hegelian one - has been renewed in contemporary philosophy.  Thus contemporary Continental metaphysics has gone back to decide again whether to dismantle and then reinstall a modified correlationism of Kant or a modified correlationism of Hegel, or better, engage either Kant or Hegel in their correlationism and then follow the path out from there.  With that reconstruction correlationism is "reinstalled" with new philosophical effects.

If blog exchanges (or Twitter comments) can be civil this is the sort engendering dialogue that I actually enjoy.  If Robert's (or others') response, if there is even a response to be had on his part, is not civil then I see no interest in making further comment.  I've watched Robert interact with Terry Blake on Twitter and I am not interested in those sorts of exchanges.  On the other hand if things are productive then that's a different story.

an update from Quentin Meillassoux

He informs me that presently he is re-writing a paper delivered at the Berlin workshop rather than working on The Divine Inexistence. As an aside, he also said that in that re-write he plans to address the speculative realism "label."

Travel and research plans prohibit him from appearing at this coming summer's Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy, unfortunately. But we'll try again next year I think. Stephanie and I are planning to reach out to invitees soon.

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (b. September 30, 1865)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bloomsbury Philosophy News: Plato and Nietzsche - a visual journey

Link HERE.

See also After Nature posts: "Plato's Near Miss: The Soul as Self Moved" HERE;

"Nietzsche on Soul in Nature" HERE;

"Hartshorne's Neoclassical Approach to Soul and Beauty" HERE;

"Locke's Theory of the Soul" HERE;

Joseph Grange's Soul: A Cosmology is also a very good book, HERE.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"A defense of Contemporaneanism" (AUFS blog post)

This was good.  Apropos some of my posts as of late...
"For adherents of the ground-breaking philosophical school of Contemporaneanism, it’s been a wild ride. Side-stepping traditional academic institutions, we stepped directly into the public sphere by using online technologies like blog posts and Twitter links to blog posts. The results have been astounding: in the last couple minutes alone, Contemporaneanism has gone from zero adherents to one. That rate of growth puts us on pace to take over every academic field within thirty minutes. And not unexpectedly, the powers that be in the Ivory Tower are nervous. 
Some people are still asking themselves, “What is Contemporaneanism?” Questions like that always make me impatient. If too many people ask, I start to wonder if there’s a coordinated campaign to discredit Contemporaneanism. I certainly wouldn’t put such a thing past the adherents of Pastism (a blanket term I literally just coined to cover all previous philosophers insofar as they reject the main tenets of Contemporaneanism). With their comfortable tenured bon-bons, they have the most to lose when Contemporaneanism completely changes the intellectual landscape. Sure, they cover up their systematic persecution with specious claims like “We’ve never even heard of Contemporaneanism” — but we see right through that. They’re running scared. 
We continually remind ourselves that radical new schools of thought always face opposition. What if Plato, Kant, and someone you’ve never heard of whom I’m putting forth as a self-evident part of the philosophical canon just gave up the first time someone asked them what they were talking about? And really, are we even properly a “school” at all? Isn’t Contemporaneanism more of a sensibility, a shared set of concerns, than a “movement” — at least a “movement” in the sense that we could be held responsible for some determinate positions and arguments? What’s striking to me is the radical diversity of Contemporaneanism. And you know what? It’s not my job to point out examples of the many people who adhere to Contemporaneanism (in such a way that it doesn’t constitute a determinate “movement” that can be criticized). If you don’t keep up with the most important and exciting developments in your field, that’s on you. 
God. Can’t someone start a philosophical movement without having to constantly argue with people?!"
Link HERE.

Oh, and this comment was particularly hilarious:
"Temporally-oriented schools of thought are so last week. Time itself is a pretty outdated concept for that matter. I’m all for Atemporal Simultaneityism, a school of thought which I never came up with at any particular moment in time."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Speculative ®ealism™ (a blog essay/opinion piece with some answers)

It seems there is some "confusion" regarding my take on the rumor that Speculative Realism is dead.

Adam Robbert (and indirectly Tom Sparrow) chime in about their confusion, as does Bryan (a good online friend of mine) from the blog Speculum Criticum Traditionis, HERE.

My point in several of my last posts was to state what I think Bryan's post hints to but doesn't say outright. It is what I and others have been trying to say as clearly as possible but perhaps haven't been emphatic enough. So let's state it for the record:

"Speculative Realism" is dead, and what we are left with is Speculative ®ealism™.

Incidentally, Brassier's point seems to be the same in his "Speculative Autopsy."  The fact that Blake, Hills, Wolfendale, and myself have been saying this for years is only vindicated by that fact.  (And if you are wondering how I read the postscript, I am doing a review of Pete Wolfendale's book where the postscript appears.  His book won't be officially out there until October, but I've been honored an advance copy in order to write the review.)

Here's what's interesting.  I can't understand why I am lambasted for having an opinion that essentially confirms what others deeper in the stream are also saying.  Brassier for example brings up some terrific points.  In the postscript he asks for us to look at who is editing the supposedly "thriving" Speculative Realism book series.  Look at who is editing the PhilPapers "Speculative Realism" category.  And then finally look at who self-identifies with that label, i.e." "brand."  One person.  Brassier points out that not he himself; nor Meillassoux; nor Grant self-identify with that label nor even can they all be collected together in any coherent or meaningful way other than participating at a conference almost a decade ago (and Grant characteristically with good manners omits himself from being included in the Philosophy Today 2 page piece he wrote on the subject many years back).  Brassier then goes on then to challenge whether even citing a critique of "correlationism" would be an adequate way to situate together the four 2007 conference participants.  And his answer is "no."  (I've published a paper about two years ago arguing the opposite but he makes a compelling case.)

Now, here's where I come in as a commentator.  Why do I think, too, that "Speculative Realism" is dead and what we are left with is Speculative ®ealism™.  (And this is where the rumor comes in too.)  As Ben Woodward has described it, Speculative Realism is the "dead elephant in the room."  Or as Armen Avenessian put it: we are now "after" Speculative Realism.  We all know that the initial speculative thrust, the initial turn to realism and materialism in metaphysics, is something that Continental philosophy today is now by and large doing as a main stream of thought, opposed to, say, deconstruction or postmodernism.  And yes, that is a turn and general approach to philosophy that is alive and well today.  And, yes, to some degree that conference set into motion, or at least augmented that motion, - to some degree.  But Badiou, Kacem, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres, Laruelle: those and others in Continental philosophy have appropriated for quite some time, even long before 2007, speculative and materialist philosophy. Meillassoux for example as far back as 1997; Laurelle and Badiou even further back.  "New materialism" as a related stream of inquiry; speculative philosophy as a new-found return to metaphysics; ontology drawing upon the sciences...these motions were prefigured before "Speculative Realism" - which at best "was" a tendency or spirit of philosophy.  But  Speculative ®ealism™ is not in any philosophy departments; few know what it is; few take it seriously (because of its online antics); and few actually publish about it.  It is mostly an online phenomena put out there by kooks yelling from the sidelines.  Those graduate classes on it?  Philosophy departments in Holland.  Those theses about it?  Written by M.A. students in Russia.  I do not believe there are any philosophy departments in Canada or the U.S. who have "specializations" and consistently offer graduate seminars on "Speculative Realism."  What would they talk about?  Who?  So those who say Speculative Realism is "thriving" and that the "existence" question is not a question are full of it.  Period.  Otherwise the now infamous "orgy of stupidity" phrase has been by and large true; it's been where most of Speculative ®ealism™'s activity has been happening.

Speculative Realism did initially take off on blogs insofar as a certain networking took place, where folks with like-minded interests met (as materialist, speculative, or realist metaphysics is concerned).  But that's a wide net for today's philosophy.  So "speculative" and "realist" philosophy?  Not just the 2007 conference then.  Is Hegel a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  Is Whitehead a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  Is Deleuze a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  Is C.S. Peirce a "speculative realist?"  Yes.  And Bryan's post does point out that largely in the history of Continental or Americanist metaphysics most figures are doing speculative philosophy with a certain sort of realism in mind.  Otherwise we are talking about some people online.

On the other hand, it is true that that 2007 conference did culturally let's say put an emphatic underscore on the "return" to metaphysics within the Continental tradition.  But we must consistently be reminded that this return was prefigured historically and is not such the new revolution one might think that it is.  See for example Andrew Reck's Speculative Philosophy - an older book but it makes the point.  As does Rosenthal's Speculative Pragmatism.  Both published long before the two - yes two books on "Speculative Realism" in the nearly decade that has passed.  These motions have more or less always been there, it's just that the online underscoring had brought them to prominence as contemporary figures (Kacem, Meillassoux, Laruelle, etc. etc.) were and are carrying them forward.

Finally: I think the idea that I am so quick to claim "Speculative Realism" is dead because somehow I have an ax to grind or that I am "personally" motivated is a non-issue.  Do I find Speculative ®ealism™ objectionable?  Yes.  Do I find the propagators of Speculative ®ealism™ objectionable?  Yes.  But their behavior doesn't necessarily always involve just me.  Why is it that Terry Blake's papers (many of them published: in Theoria, also in a prominent review of Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, etc. etc. etc.) aren't found on PhilPapers? Why is it that Galloway was harangued and ridiculed the way he was?  Why is it that Wolfendale's 70 page article was just, well, ignored?  Why is it that so many of the most well known commentators or figures who publish about it, let alone blog about it, are flat-out ignored?  And yes, apparently the criteria now is that you just not publish, it has to be that you publish books.  Yet, through blog posts we have most of the repartee on the other side of the trenches which essentially equals Speculative ®ealism™ propagators taking personal cheap shots and then running for cover.  Oh, and my blog posts are cited in the literature.  Hill's are.  Blake's are.  But all of us, and many, many more folks to boot, are ignored otherwise.  Intentionally blackballed.  And Sparrow knows and admits this.  He is pretty much the only one on "the other side" who mentions who and what needs to be mentioned.  But you don't find that sort of fairness with anyone else.  So the fact that Blake, Hills, Wolfendale, and on and on and on are ignored is blatantly obvious to everyone who even has an inkling of a clue.

Fun fact: Do you know that I submitted nearly all of my publications on "Speculative Realism" to PhilPapers and waited and waited and waited for them to appear on their listings, which they never did?  I emailed Chalmers, who is one of the main guys behind PhilPapers, and was told that the editor hadn't approved my submissions under the "professional author" category.  In fact almost all of them I believe weren't approved.  These are peer-reviewed journal publications I have done.  So I was blackballed.  Intentionally.

But is this really about me and me alone?  Do I really care that I, and so many others, aren't to be answered by Speculative ®ealism™?  No, not really, if push comes to shove.  Because that sort of running away is to be expected of cowards, cronies, and online thugs. That's where that graduate student, the one who has never met me before, never interacted with me online before, the one who doesn't know a thing about me comes in.  Yet there they are in the "online orgy of stupidity" running their mouth on Twitter, lambasting me stating that my point is, "Oh, Speculative Realism is soooo dead....because it hasn't written about me enough."  Right.  Because that's really my point; yep, you got me.  And you wonder why I said you need professional help?  Do you even know me?  Do you you even know anything about me?  Please.  Get a clue.

Blake has written thousands of pages on the topic; Hills thousands of words through his blog posts, many of which are stellar, clear, and publishable - and again, YES - blogs are cited in literature reviews.  Look at Wolfendale's 400 page gauntlet, let alone a 70 page article never looked at.  (Incidentally, during the half hour or so that I was writing this post I had just gotten an email from UMN Press offering to me a review copy of Shaviro's new book, which I have commented upon during my introductory lecture at this past year's Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy.  So yeah; I guess I'm soooo not relevant.)  Oh, and why is it that Robbert and Sparrow - Sparrow to his credit has given credit where credit is due - are confused that an "SR" commentator is still talking about Speculative Realism?  It's because not just me - but a whole litany of folks -are blackballed in a spot-clutching political power-brokering game with one internet wizard in regrettable control.  That's what killed "Speculative Realism," as in, to use Woodward's description, what was the spirit of "what could have been."

I don't think it is ironic that, as a blogger, or as someone talking about the subject one could say, oh, well, if it is dead why do you still talk about it?  Well, why do you still read it?  I'm the one who enjoys the philosophies of Brassier and Wolfendale, and  loves to read/engage Meillassoux and especially Iain Hamilton Grant; and loves many of the philosophers whom those figures read: e.g. Hegel, Schelling, Deleuze, Kant, Brandom, Sellars, Plato, etc. etc. etc. And that love, from time to time does equal a blog post or an article, a book review, or perhaps even, yes, a book!  But many of the same topics are those that I enjoy too: naturalism, philosophical pessimism, a "dark" vitalism, metaphysics and speculative philosophy, logic, pragmatism, philosophical ecology, German idealism, and a host of others.  There is no shame in blogging about speculative, Continental realist and materialist philosophy as much as I blog about philosophical ecology, philosophy of nature, or animal ethics.  Medhi Belhaj Kacem is a great philosopher.  Laurelle is great to read for the challenge.  Heck, even the ontological turn in anthropology and ecology has me excited: Latour, Descola, Vieveiros de Castro and so on.

But don't for a second make this about your label; your power-brokering; or your fantasyland "movement."  Now that everyone knows straight from the horse's mouth that there is no "movement" except for what you and your cronies try to make it be in your own selective awareness bubble, it may be best to let dead dogs lie.  Oh, and the objection that an "anti-brand" movement is a cheap way of an opposing side to, itself, be a movement?  No.  Philosophy isn't about brands, at all.  Give me arguments, not drippy rhetoric with a "brand" name that one simply says is real.  Saying so doesn't mean that it is so.

Bryan says let speculative realism live forever.  I agree.  But the spirit of that conference, the spirit of what "was to be"?  It's now dead and gone.  Online cronyism and politics killed that.  Long, long ago.  And it's not just about me folks.  Again, I'll defer again and again to those who were major players or commentators yet who have been straight up ignored...for years.  It's all right there in black and white.

So, yes, "Speculative Realism" is dead, and sadly, Speculative ®ealism™ remains.  And that's no exaggeration.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Ecology Re-naturalized" (process versus object debate)

My latest publication, "Ecology Re-naturalized," will be featured in A Philosophy of Sacred Nature (Lexington Books) to be published this November.  It is a chapter covering philosophical ecology and a number of related themes in an anthology about naturalism and religion.

Anyone interested in the "process" versus "object" debate will want to read this.

Page proofs are HERE.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ray Brassier's postscript to Pete Wolfendale's book

Just finished reading it.  Brassier puts to rest the "existence" question of Speculative Realism once and for all, as I have tried to do recently in several of my last posts.  The postscript is truly the "last word" on the issue and essentially has led me to confirm rather conclusively my decisions to refrain from publishing my IEP and Stanford entries on "Speculative Realism" and to decline the editorship of a "Speculative Realism" series offered to me by x University Press.

Of course this does not mean I will stop talking about speculative realism, just that I will not assume certain duties or publish those two specific entries.  The next question, then, is whether speculative realism is still worth talking about. 

His postscript is something anyone who has/had an interest in the subject ought to read.  So, buy Pete's book.

Brassier lucidly communicates s a truth that has been for a long time in need of telling.  Blake, Hills, Wolfendale, Galloway, Oyama, and myself have been telling that truth for years, if not in recent months to the denial of many.  I respect Ray personally and am glad he wrote the postscript the way that he did.

I suppose that's all I say for now. Afterall, what can I say? - the man has said it all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tristan Garcia "What is something?" (from 6.10.14 on Digital Milieu)

Wolfendale "went out to shoot a lame dog, and ended up building a cathedral"

When Lessing said, "People always speak of Spinoza as if of a dead dog," he was referring to the fact that Spinoza had been conclusively refuted.  Hence Wolfendale has finally put down the lame dog. 

See also HERE; HERE; HERE; or HERE.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

P.E.S.T. "Speculative Autopsy"

For those local in the Philadelphia area...

P.E.S.T. presents,

Speculative Autopsy

Following upon last year's highly successful "Speculative Misanthropy" workshop, P.E.S.T. returns once again to discuss 21st-century philosophy in the P.E.S.T. organization's own unique and daring style: underground, off radar, and free from constraint.  The best and brightest of young philosophers doing contemporary metaphysics in the States will discuss their views on a variety of topics within contemporary metaphysical philosophy.  Seminar leaders include Karen Oyama, Leon Niemoczynski, and Jason Bell.    

This year's workshop is a four hour evening event; hosted locally in Philadelphia, October 31st!  Yes, that's music, philosophy, and Halloween!

Topics up for discussion include: the philosophy of Ray Brassier, Nick Land, and Francois Laruelle; Pete Wolfendale's latest book on OOP through Urbanomic; #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader; Ontological Suprematism; Dark Vitalism; Dark Fiction and Non-Philosophy/Non-Theology; Speculative and Ecstatic Naturalism; Bleak Theology; and Science Fiction and Philosophy.  Plus you can expect a few surprise guests and live music for all!

If you're in the area come join the fun.  Dancefloor, electronics, dark philosophy.  That's for more info.  (Limited seating available.)

#No_light  #No_social  #No_charlatans

A fist in the face of cronyism since 2013... This isn't a "skirmish," this is war ...

An Emotional Hegel (Alex Dubilet)